Most Start-ups are based on certain assumptions of a ‘consumer need’. It could be a product or a service; their underlying assumption being, “There is a need for <this> in the market”. In most cases these needs have been felt directly or indirectly by the founders. The rest of the journey is one of discovering how widely the need is shared, how valuable is their solution and whether there is a business to be made while addressing this need.
The journey of discovering the scale and the intensity of these untapped needs involves having real users experience the solution. What we must realise is that users do not have any prior mental model of how these “untapped” needs should be addressed i.e. since they have never thought about a need, they do not have any idea of how the solution would work.
(How should an automatic cooking robot work?)
When Start-ups address these “untapped” needs, they take users on a journey through new interfaces. Sub-optimal UX comes in the way of them experiencing a brand new service that has no prior benchmarks. As the power of the solution has not been experienced by the users there is no ‘carrot’ to motivate them to overcome the UX hurdles. Users would be quick to abandon the product which would be perceived as a rejection of the product concept when it was merely an underdeveloped user experience. (Cooking myself is easier than making the cooking robot work! Who needs them anyways!)
Let’s now think of a need that has been well established in user’s minds, Digital banking. We all know that most banking products are complex to understand and difficult to use but as is the case with “established needs” users are willing to spend that extra time and effort to work on these products. (You probably spent 20 minutes figuring out how to transfer funds on your banking app)
It is only once users value your solution, that they decide to invest effort in working through your interfaces. We all know of software that people pay to learn because they full understand it’s value.
Unfortunately most Start-ups miss this point, UX design is often left for later. Founders believe that getting users a “unusable working product” will help them establish the need for their product, sadly most users reject these products purely based on their UX and leave the creators disappointed.